As promised, I convinced my sister to share some of her journey in fixing her credit in a really short period of time. She managed to get her score from the 500’s to the 700’s in THREE MONTHS. Yeah…you read it right. She’s no financial expert, didn’t go to school for it, isn’t a credit consultant (although I bet she could start a business if she wanted to), but she learned a ton from a lot of googling, research and figuring out what rights she has! She did a lot of the work a credit repair company does on her own, without paying a hefty fee for them doing the work.
When we talked about doing this series, I wanted her to break it down. Because its A LOT of info and A LOT of work. You may not have the exact same results as her and her fiance did when they started fixing their credit, but you can use the methods she used to fix your own, if applicable. She fixed hers in 3 months, when I started having her help me look at mine, we figured it would take a little bit longer. I’ve got a lot of recent medical debt and I would have to take my time to pay some of it off ( I don’t have an extra $4000 laying around).
So results may vary! It all depends on how much cash you have on hand, how good your negotiating skills are and the fall off dates on the debt. But the first step is to really take a look at what is on your credit report!
Thanks to Michelle for volunteering up her info!
Hi there O Guide readers!! I’m Michelle! Angela’s middle sister! I wanted to share my journey in fixing my fiance and my credit. It’s not impossible to do on your own!
When my fiancé and I wanted to start house hunting, I knew our credits must be in pristine order for any lender to take us seriously. My fiancé and I went through the ups and downs of the economy, like a lot of people did. Pulling credit came so easy, allowed us to get what we wanted when we wanted it, until unfortunately the economy took a dive. When you have bills to pay and do not have a good source of income, things get quite messy really quick. When you are ready to get back up on your feet, dust yourself off and get back to living, it can be very overwhelming. A lot of people don’t dare bother or have any idea where to even begin when it comes to their credit; some have never even pulled their report! I knew enough to pull my report and to pay off my debts, but not a clue on how to actually repair my report after paying the debts off. After a lot of digging around, I found a lot of tricks to repairing some of the worst credit inquiries. You have to get through that first hurdle, knowing what the hell is on that thing.
First things first: Pull your report.
I have always pulled my report. Every single year since I was 18 years old. I knew there wasn’t much on there but I pulled it anyways with no intentions of doing more than just viewing it. After a while, I was watching negative items show up when I got sick and didn’t have the money to pay my medical bills off in time, or when I racked up a credit card, trusted someone else to make the payment and it bounced back and ended up to be 3x my credit limit. It seemed to me I could not get any positive items on there but the negative ones flooded my report. Trust me when I say if you want a positive inquiry, it’s a struggle but a negative one shows up faster than you can blink.
You can pull your own report every year without costing you a penny. This is a must in the very least. Pull your report – it’s free! Annualcreditreport.com allows you to pull all three of your reports from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian every 365 days.
After pulling our reports, I knew we needed help. The situation was just too overwhelming and I didn’t know where to start. We went to see a credit repair guy for a free consultation, who told us some things I did not know. Did you know when you use the Internet to dispute an item you are actually giving up a lot of your rights? Who would have known? Let’s keep this in mind as I tell you how I moved scores from 500s to 740s in the matter of 3 months –don’t get ahead of me, do not go online to dispute items on your report!
After we were done with our consultation, we decided we needed to try this on our own, plus they wanted to charge a ridiculous fee from the sounds of it, to just send a bunch of letters on our behalf. As overwhelming as it all was, I pulled a new report and logged onto IdentityIQ, which we signed up for during our consultation. There are a lot of websites out there that allow you to view all 3 reports and scores. Do some research and find one that fits your needs the best. This company was going to charge us $19.99 a month but it allowed me to see all three credit reports and all three scores every month; if I were to pull each individual credit report from each bureau and purchase them each month it would cost me 3x that amount.
After printing the report, I started by highlighting all of the negative items that needed to be fixed. Any adverse, negative, potentially negative, and all public records were highlighted, even accounts in good standing that had late payments, were highlighted. During my research, I discovered the time-period when a debt can be reported is 7 years so, I highlighted the dates too. Each state has its own time period of when a debt can be collected, whether or not it is on your report. Since I’m from Michigan, I know this time period is 6 years. You can search online for statute of limitations for debts for your state to find out.
To make it easier on myself, I did a few things:
- I made a column for each credit bureau
- I wrote down all the debts for each
- I wrote down the original creditors/collection agencies
- And I wrote the dates they were expected to fall off the report.
To find the date the debt is going to fall off was something I struggled with, but if you keep in mind all three credit bureaus are three separate, individual companies that have their own agendas, it makes it much easier to understand why they are all different. For a delinquent account to fall off your credit report, meaning it gets erased from the report, it is 7 years, unless you have had a bankruptcy which is 10 years but just because it is off your report doesn’t mean you don’t still owe the debt. In Michigan it’s 6 years that you have a legal responsibility to repay that debt, in Illinois where Angela lives its longer, 10 years, so even if it falls off your report, you can still be sued if your state’s statue of limitations is longer than the reporting time of 7 years. After 7 years of being listed on your report it, the delinquent account goes away, even if you still owe the money. Check your states statue of limitations! Just because the debt disappeared from your credit report doesn’t mean it won’t come back if you still have a legal obligation to repay it. They could sue you and it will come back worse – as a judgment! I encourage everyone to repay debts you owe as a moral obligation, even if you don’t have a legal obligation.
With that being said, some list the expected fall off date, others make you guess. When making you guess, it’s really a matter of finding the date of the first delinquency.
Say you got all excited and got a Nordstrom credit card and went and spent $800 on a pair of Louboutins! But whoops! You missed a payment in October and it was 30 days late. But then you were able to get back on track in November, December and January. But whoops again! You missed February and you still haven’t been able to get it caught back up. The Date of First Delinquency (DFOD) would be the date you missed in February.
In order for a delinquency to be reported on your credit, you must be behind on a payment or bill by 30 days. If you are late on your payment, by say 15 days, they won’t report it but you will be paying late fees. But once it hits 30, it goes on the report.
Some debts can appear twice!! (but it doesn’t mean you owe it twice!) One may have said, “charged off” or just had a zero balance stating the balance was transferred and there would be a second debt with the same amount stating it was owed from a different company. They can and will hit you twice. I wrote down the one with a balance to start.
Say you have a credit card with Macy’s. And shame on you, you stopped paying on it. The Macy’s account will show on your credit report. When you stopped paying on it and it got delinquent, they sold it to a collections agency. Both Macy’s and the collection agency are reporting a delinquent account on your credit. So it’s a double whammy! Even though the debt is only owed to the credit agency, Macy’s still reports it as negative.
The top one would be your account from Macy’s showing your balance. Macy’s sold it to a collection company, so they can write it off of their books, but now you have two negatives for one debt and a pesky debt collector calling all the time. They may or may not be next to each other; the original Macy’s account may be on page 3 of your report, when the pesky collection agency is on page 10. It’s like a scavenger hunt locating the correct collection agency for the original creditor. You will want to pay special attention to the “original” amounts to figure out their puzzles, along with the “original creditor” (most of the time it’s listed). The dates may differ as you can see, but that’s okay – just what they like to do.
Once I had all the negative items listed with their expected fall off dates, I organized them according to when they were going to fall off the report under which credit bureau. This allowed me to stay organized as I started the next step of writing letters to each and every one of them.
Next week I’ll give you the break down on the next step of the process. Writing those letters and getting them out. So you can finally work on fixing those nasty credit scores!
Come check out Part Two next Friday!